There have been a couple of great examples in the last 6 months of online campaigns that have gone viral. Viral campaigns usually have a video element (from my experience) but they can also be games. For instance, Angry Birds iPhone app game could definitely fit into the viral category as it literally spread like wildfire. Earlier in 2012, the Kony campaign was thought to be one of the biggest the world has ever seen with over 93 million views of the 30 minute video. But now, merely 7 months later, we have a new viral winner. Psy, a pop star rapper from Korea has knocked Kony off its perch with its western/ K-Pop song Gangnam Style with over 460 million views at the writing of this blog post on 15th October 2012.

Gangnam Style from Psy has gained worldwide fame in the 3 months since it was uploaded to YouTube. The Project TV show on Channel 10 (fast forward to 4.45 minutes of the segment) in Australia did a story on it last night which clearly showed the exponential growth of the Gangnam Style phenomenon over the last 3 months and those influential people who perhaps forced the tipping point to send the video into overdrive.


The viral growth of Psy K-Pop Gangnam Style video and how it spread across the internet to become the biggest viral campaign in 2012

This graph shows the tipping point when Psy’s K-Pop Gangnam Style video went viral after Robbie Williams, Katy Perry and Britney Spears tweeted their love for the song.

When the video was uploaded to YouTube on 15th July 2012 it was an instant success with about half a million views per day, but then Robbie Williams added his considerably weight and tweeted his love of Gangnam Style on July 28. Robbie Williams has about 1.8 million twitter followers, so that helped Psy spread his video viral but it was the twitter heavy-weight Katy Perry, who didn’t catch onto Gangnam Style until 21st August who really sent this K-Pop video into overdrive. Katy Perry has over 27 million twitter followers, in fact she is one of the top 3 most influential people on twitter based on the size of her fan base. So when Britney Spears added her kudos for Gangnam Style on twitter on 31st August, her 21 million fans cemented Psy as the King of Viral – at least for this year.


The K-Pop video Gangnam Style by Psy was the 5th fastest video in YouTube history to hit 100 million views.

The K-Pop video Gangnam Style by Psy was the 5th fastest video in YouTube history to hit 100 million views.

According to research by the Project, Gangnam Style reached 100 million views in 51 days, which is the 5th fastest video to reach this milestone in that timeframe. Its interesting to note that of these Top 5 viral videos to break 100 million YouTube views within 51 days, 4/5 are music videos like Psy’s Gangnam Style. Only Kony 2012 is a campaign of another kind.


The first ever viral video I remember from earlier in my digital marketing/ media days was the Dove Evolution video that showed how a model is air-brushed from being a fairly normal looking girl to a gorgeous model. This was a viral campaign with an awesome message – Don’t compare yourself to the unrealistic expectations put up by fashion magazines as normal because these magazines don’t represent the truth.


Viral videos are brilliant. Every brand, marketing team, advertising agency or musician would be so proud to say that their campaign went viral but there is no recipe to follow. There is no formular for what works. From the ones I’ve seen in the past, they’re either hilariously funny, disgustingly rude and offensive, emotional and uplifting or based on music – which is a true global language. Last year I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, which I made notes all over. This morning I tried to scour through it looking for a quote that would adequately sum up how hard it is to define the point which tips a campaign or message into the global phenomenon/ viral space but he couldn’t sum it up in 259 pages. I did find one quote which I thought was nice though.


“Those who are successful at creating social epidemics do not just do what they think is right. They deliberately test their intuitions.” Pg 258, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell.

What I take out of this quote is that nothing extraordinary comes without someone taking a risk.